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The Secret of Priest's Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story
The Secret of Priest's Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story
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Product Code: 14303

This is a book about two stories. First, it is the story of a small group of Jewish families who survived the Holocaust by hiding out from 1942 to 1944 deep underground in caves in the western Ukraine. The ingenuity and courage of these survivors, their fear and suffering, is moving. Their accomplishment—surviving underground longer than anyone else on record—is amazing. Much of the information in this story is based on a memoir that one of the survivors, Esther Stermer, published privately more than 30 years ago. The second story in this book is about the explorations of the authors, both cavers, into the saga of the Jewish families who hid in the caves. Here the book takes turns into natural history and investigative journalism. Taylor and Nicola recount both their exploits in the Ukrainian caves and their interactions with the Jewish survivors, now living in Canada and the United States. They refer to themselves in the third person, which gives portions of the book the feel of a television documentary. Weaving together the two very different stories—Holocaust survival and archaeological discovery—is no easy task. The narratives, which jump back and forth in time and in point of view, can be confusing at times. The authors' process of investigation is certainly interesting, and their accomplishment is significant. But the Holocaust survival story at the heart of this book would pack a greater emotional and historical wallop if it had been allowed to carry the narrative in a more straightforward manner. Vintage and modern photographs bring both strands of the book to life.

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